Nearly half of the workers at a Cambridge steel plant are set to lose their jobs.

Gerdau Cambridge Mill, located on Orion Street, has announced plans to shut down its melt shop over the next few weeks after idling production as of Tuesday.

Approximately 240 people are currently employed at the plant, with about 100 of them affected by the closure of the melt shop.

Company officials say the work currently done at the shop will move to a larger plant in Whitby.

“The idea is to keep our production in Ontario,” Gerdau communications director Philip Bell tells CTV News.

“The Gerdau mills in Canada do a very good job of trying to be as competitive as possible.”

Although the closure is considered a temporary shutdown, the company says it may turn into a permanent closure.

The union representing Gerdau employees, United Steelworkers, says it hopes the melt shop will be able to reopen.

“The company hasn’t indicated to us at all that this is a permanent shutdown,” says USW representative Carrie Robinson.

“We are very hopeful that by the end of the year, these mebmers of ours will be back working.”

At issue, Bell says, is the impact of imported steel from China, Turkey, Mexico and elsewhere.

“We’ve evaluated the marketplace, we’ve looked at the value of imports and we’ve made a decision to try to handle our production capabilities in the most effective way possible,” he says.

Gerdau’s Cambridge rolling mill will stay in operation.